Getting your house on the market: the best way to show and sell
PUBLISHED: 15:53 01 September 2014 | UPDATED: 11:41 14 July 2015
Extreme Viewing - Photographers, Film Crews, and rooms from every angle: more than just a property brochure!
When you are getting your home or property ready to sell, the way to handle the job may seem glaringly obvious. Everyone has a story to tell – from your estate agent, to your friends, family and neighbours – so there is advice … and confusingly, there are also opinions, as to how to best approach the task in hand!
Working in the offices of Strutt & Parker, nationwide property agents, you may think as an employee, I would be unfazed by the impending photo shoot for property particulars for my own house. All was going well – until I was contacted about our first appointment to see our house: not a “Mr and Mrs”, but a film crew, potential buyers and Nicki Chapman from Escape to the Country.
This was extreme viewing! In the same way that ironing has found a new lease of life as an extreme sport, this was a whole other ball game and some panic-stricken action was necessary. Armed with tips from our estate agents, from property programmes, and from friends and family, I made a list of priorities.
There was ruthless de-cluttering; windows were cleaned inside and out; bathrooms and the kitchen were deep cleaned; carpets cleaned and hoovered (a deep breath was taken before spending the money, but it is definitely worth it); all evidence of the dog was removed; the enormous quantities of Lego that permeated most rooms in the house were banished to the playroom; the garden tidied, the lawn mown and some new plants supplemented the rather straggly herbs round the house.
Even the chicken run was spruced up and the log piles stacked as though becoming a Tate Modern exhibit. Once the fresh flowers were in place, the fruit bowls filled, I am not ashamed to say that I even polished the apples…
We watched back-episodes of Escape to the Country to see what struck us about houses that invoked a somewhat strained upbeat reaction: electrical wires and leads snaking up walls, too many cushions, too many stuffed animals, untidy curtains, untidy kitchens, the dreaded pictures on the fridge, bottles on the edge of the bath… suddenly, the prospect of looking at our property through someone else’s eyes seemed to be a minefield.
I got the selling agent to come and look at the house as a fresh pair of eyes – and we changed the furniture layout in most of the downstairs rooms. It was a revelation. At first, I was reluctant to move everything – after all, it wasn’t how we lived. It was firmly pointed out that this was immaterial: it wasn’t about “us” – it was about how other people might see the potential, or have that potential obscured.
First, we had the photo shoot done for the brochure: it seemed I’d forgotten some key points – though you do the washing up every day, no one wants to see the evidence of your washing up liquid; though you have a playroom, indication of bows, arrows and children’s paintings are not charming features at all!
The trick seemed to be not to impose the way we live on potential viewers but not cross the line into making the house appear completely without personality. Having said that, getting the house ready to be photographed, and getting the house ready for viewings are two different things. Whilst I have definitely learnt to look at every aspect of home with a new mind-set, walking potential buyers round your home definitely requires some evidence of how you live there, and how it works day-to-day in real life. It’s a fine line.
I took a straw poll amongst some of the Strutt & Parker estate agency teams to see what negative feedback came from house viewings – without a doubt, top of the list was lack of cleanliness, followed closely by too much “stuff”. De-cluttering and dirt can obscure possibilities – and first impressions count. You have to look past what you live with – and the problem with living in a house is that once it becomes your home, you can’t see for looking.
Whilst getting it right won’t guarantee a flood of offers, getting it wrong can definitely have an adverse effect. And, at the end of the day, do you want to sell?
Strutt & Parker, 37 Lower Bridge Street, Chester CH1 1RS 01244 354888
The episode of Escape to the Country featuring Bryn Rhug will be on in the autumn on BBC1